Topics for Paper III, WGS 352 Women's Religious Narratives E/W

Due in class, Monday, February 16.


1. Identify three key aspects of Aama's spirituality and discuss the ways in which they influence her perceptions of America. In what ways are these aspects helpful for her pilgrimate in America and in what ways do they hinder her from relating to America and Americans in meaningful ways.

2. Discuss Broughton Coburn's relationship to Aama, Didi, and his mother. Examine three ways in which his relationship to the women in his life change over the course of the book.

3. In Higan-Compassionate Vow, we are presented with the experiences and understanding of Shinobu Matsuura, a follower and teacher of Pure Land Buddhist compassion. In what ways was she a follower and in what ways a teacher? In considering this question, you may want to consider the relationship between adaptation and innovation as found in her Buddhist life. Brief overviews of Pure Land thought to help you consider this topic are available on request.

4. Construct a dialogue between Kathleen Norris and Mary Crow Dog concerning the relation between nature, race, and religion. Although this takes a dialogical rather than standard academic expository style, be sure to document your ideas through page references and, where appropriate, direct quotations.

5. Discuss how two of the sources, one a chapter or article from Feminine and Feminist Ethics or Weaving the Visions, respectively, and the other, one of the books read so far, Dakota by Kathleen Norris or Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog, changed or influenced the view of women and religion expressed in your first essay. Be sure to discuss points of disagreement with these sources as well as what you may have learned from them or how you may have been affected.

6. Write a dialogue between Aama and Shinobu Matsuura in which they discuss their views on the relationship between men and women in America as well as in traditional Asian culture within the framework of their religious understanding. Be sure to provide quotations and/or textual references for the views you attribute to these women.

7. Write a dialogue between any two of the following three women - Mary Crow Dog, Aama, and Shinobu Matsuura - to discuss both how difficult their specific circumstances in life have been and how they were able to move beyond these circumstances. Be sure to provide quotations and/or textual references for the views you attribute to these women.

8. Select one of the major readings from Weeks 4-6 (Lakota Woman, Aama in America, Higan-Compassionate Vow) and examine the relation between the external circumstances that may have been oppressive and the internal process of developing a deeper, more integrated and/or spiritual self. Use one thinker/theory from Rosemarie Tong's Feminine and Feminist Ethics or Plaskow and Christ's Weaving the Visions to discuss two key turning points in the awakening of the main figure (Mary Crow Dog, Aama, Shinobu Matsuura). Examine the significance of her cultural circumstances in relation to these turning points and its ramifications for inward realization and empowerment.